Alan Kay at Etcon

Be inspired: Alan Kay at Etcon this year…

We should think about children. The printing revoltuion didn’t happen in Gutenberg’s day, it happened 150 years later, long after Gutenberg was dead,when all the people alive had grown up with the press.

A small minority of Gutenberg’s contemporaries *got* the printing press, but it wasn’t until they were dead that the children who grew up with the press were able to put the ideas into practice


This stuff is better than anything in our handhelds today. We could implement it from they papers they wrote then, but no one reads the papers that were written in the 60s.

Seymour Papert proposed that kids would learn differential geometry on wireless laptops in the 60s.

We’ve gone through a couple generation of kids since the PC and we haven’t taught them anything. We need to put a lot more effort into the systems that we build for kids. Kids are the only people who do two-handed, Engelbart interfaces.

My first real job was writing educational software (and hardcore VAX-based finance systems, rather schizophrenic) at the now long-gone Elizabeth Computer Centre, in Tasmania. Under the visionary leadership of Roger McShane in the 1980s, Tasmanian schools had probably the best networked computer systems of any non-US educational system. Roger had actually worked on the Plato system in the States, and had some interesting stories about the work that Kay, Adele Goldberg and the rest of the Xerox PARC team had been doing while inventing the personal computer. The ideas of people like Kay, Seymour Papert and the other inheritors of the constructionist learning philosophies of Vygotsky were at the core of what we were doing (and have been an enormous influence on everything I’ve done since).